Published : 2013-10-09 14:53
Updated : 2013-10-09 14:53
South Korean President Park Geun-hye was to hold a summit with Southeast Asian leaders Wednesday that is expected to focus on bolstering economic ties with an increasingly important region of vibrant economies with high growth potential.
Park arrived in Brunei on Tuesday for a trio of annual meetings: a summit with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); a meeting between ASEAN and its three Northeast Asian dialogue partners -- South Korea, China and Japan; and a meeting of the East Asia Summit (EAS) forum.
Park plans to use the summit with ASEAN, set for Wednesday afternoon, to express her commitment to bolstering economic and other types of cooperation with one of the world's fastest-growing regions and to build personal bonds with its leaders, officials said.
ASEAN has emerged as an increasingly important region to South Korea, with a combined population of 600 million, with its GDP totaling about $2.3 trillion. The region is South Korea's No. 1 investment destination and its second-largest trade partner, with two-way trade amounting to $131 billion last year.
The region is also the second-largest construction market for South Korea, with last year's construction orders from the region totaling $11 billion.
The two sides have made strides in their ties in recent years.
They established the Korea-ASEAN Center in Seoul in 2009, forged a free trade agreement later that year and upgraded their relations to a strategic partnership in 2010. South Korea also opened a diplomatic mission to exclusively handle relations with ASEAN last year.
On the sidelines, Park met bilaterally with host Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and asked for his support for Korean firms trying to take part in bridge construction projects, including a
US$3 billion venture to build a 30-km bridge linking the central district of Brunei-Muara to the remote district of Temburong.
Park also expressed hope for deeper cooperation with Brunei on the occasion of next year's 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations, noting that their trade volume has grown more than 13 fold, and areas of cooperation have expanded to construction, agricultural and other sectors since 1984.
Park invited Bolkiah to visit South Korea.
Later in the day, Park was also to hold one-on-one talks with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Myanmar President Thein Sein.
Brunei is the second stop in Park's two-nation trip to Southeast Asia. She earlier visited Indonesia's resort island of Bali for a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
After Brunei, Park is scheduled to return to Indonesia for a state visit in Jakarta later this week.
Park has termed the visit to Southeast Asia as her second "sales diplomacy" trip aimed at bolstering South Korea's economic and business interests. Last month, she made a similar business-oriented visit to Vietnam and agreed to conclude bilateral free trade talks next year. She also agreed to cooperate closely with Vietnam's plan to build nuclear power plants. (Yonhap News)